Mission Statement - L'Abri NWA
We now have our Biblical History Museum (based on the true-truths of Christian theism) up and running and on its 3rd year!!! (www.NWABibleMuseum.org) and we are set Lord willing to open up our coffee-shop and art gallery (www.Post-Postmodern.org) Summer of 2018 and lastly we have finished working with L'Abri (www.Labri.org) and have the first-leg of our simple (minimalistic) cabin setup on 60 acres of farm-land and we are working to expand our building into a 7 bedroom dormitory (in a very simple life-style combining "Pilgrim Church" with "L'Abri" with "The Benedict Option") not to retreat or become isolationists but to be a living example to a post-Christian world that Christian theism is true-truth (just like Francis Schaeffer did with L'Abri). Lord willing we will be up and running and available for you to spend a day or up to 6-week term going thru any questions you may have (is there really a God? Why Christ? Why is there so much suffering? Why is the church so impotent? Etc. etc. etc.)
More to come - right now we're finishing up the coffee-shop/art gallery so check back regularly and we hope to see you soon!
I'm going to summarize my background and purpose here and then pretty much leave it at that for now. (This site had been a monastic oriented bible-study (focusing on the great monastic-like book The Pilgrim Church) and for now I will leave it there because it still summarizes a great aspect of what the "Christianity" sought after by those like Francis Schaeffer and L'Abri, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (and his underground-seminary) as well as the countless other monatic-like movements in other countries where Christianity is illegal and they are thus forced to worship in hiding. *In the same spirit as Schaeffer, I truly do not see how a person can only be a "part-time" Christian; instead Christianity must encompass all of existence and all of life. Anything else is not a real-reality it would seem?
In other words something seems "lost" with Christianity in the United States today? As Schaeffer once stated: "A Roman Catholic bishop in the past would come up to me and express his extreme fear that I am lost since I am not a member of the chosen Roman Catholic Church. But today the same bishop would express that we are all saved no matter what?" In other words Christianity in the West has become similar to being a member of the local boyscouts/girlscouts (or Elk's Lodge) instead of representing true-truth or absolute reality. Monasticism was once the key to showing not just Christ in every aspect of life but also in advancing its truth to other cultures in a way that wasn't confrontational, but logical and showed the truth of Christ regardless of cultures or ethnicity. This aspect we must get back NOW before the United States becomes even more aggressive in their anti-Christian policies; the prosperity churches (like Hitler's Positive-Christianity) will quickly compromise with whatever the government dictates but for those true followers (like those discussed in The Pilgrim Church) we must prepare now for a very trying future.
I have spent enough time (probably too much) within academia and have acquired multiple degrees (philosophy of religion, masters in classical history and theology and have been working on another MA in the Hummanities and Arts) and have traveled to many diverse places from Turkey, to Honduras, the Highlands of Scotland to Assisi Italy (and many places in between) in the search for answers. During this time I have debated multitudes of atheists/secularists and anti-Christian groups and my confidence on the truths of Christian theism have honestly never been stronger (and thus so has academia's censorship)... But one area I have constantly struggled is on truly living-out and finding that way to be Christian in every aspect when society tries to tell me that is not only impossible but "wrong". The research done by Barna called Un-Christian cited many of these aspects when they showed that there is basically no difference in life or being for a Christian vs. non-Christian and it's becoming worse with more and more Christian leaders, churches and entire denominations endorsing a type of liberal Christianity (that would better be called "relatavistic" instead of liberal) - this new type of Christianity is more and more accepting that Christ is not the only way, maybe the Bible is false, the things the bible says is "good" is really "bad" and "bad - good", etc. My wife and I spent 2 years living in New York City working as a financial analyst for work while helping run an incredible ministy called Reach-NYC which sought to truly reach people where they are and answer their questions/concerns while also treating them like true humans (not just a number).
With this being said, there is honestly no hope that the United States is going to get any better before it's going to get worse (just look at the current news or politics any given day); so what I am hoping and praying is that I can at least offer some insights to those few persons feeling the same way while also attempting to implement my own small "monastic-setting" (for lack of a better word) that will be much similar to L'Abri that it would your typical thoughts of a guy in a robe and not talking. ;o) In all honesty there is nothing revolutionary that I'm talking about here but we need to offer a better option to true-Christianity over that of secularness or church-ianity; and with this being said I will know more in the coming years Lord willing and will continue to pray and strive to develop a L'Abri-like community here in Northwest Arkansas (on my parent's 70 acres of land). *While I am doing this with family/friends I will continue to work with other L'Abri groups and plan on spending some time with them and learning from our past (like the Lollards, Bonhoeffer, Wurmbrand, etc.) in better figuring out this crazy thing called life. *If Christianity really is true though, could I do anything less?
(Stay-tuned for pictures, etc. but this will be a work in progress as I work full-time and have some buildings setup on our family property and will be traveling to St. Louis to speak with L'Abri extension there as well as planning an eventual trip to L'Abri in Switzerland as we figure out what all of this will look like as it unfolds. God knows - and in the mean time I would strongly suggest you go through this site, watch the videos, get a free packet and read The Pilgrim Church and L'Abri for yourselves. *This is not your "ancient ancestors" monastic community we're talking about (ha, ha) but hopefully a real living group of people (like those multitudes in history) that will seek to carry Christianity into a growingly dark-world).
This is fairly simple and straight-forward; God is to be the King of everything we do. This cannot be a watered-down version of secular-Christiantiy but one that is derived and built directly from the Bible and the Holy Spirit. This is the heart of our Confession and thus everything else is linked to this concept of "God as King" - King of every aspect of our lives. Yes this does mean we will study His word together, worship, praise, serve, etc. as the rest of the Confessional points makes clear, *but this point is the foundational one in which ALL others will fall if we lose site of this first one.
Much like is described in the Book of Samuel where we read about the people coming from a time in Judges when they "everyone did as they felt was right" we see the people then taking the next step in proclaiming to Samuel that they want a "King" as other nations instead of God. God granted them to their own desires which eventually led to Solomon's kingdom being divided and destroyed as God removed His Spirit from the Holy Temple and allowed His people to be lead off by the Arab Babylonian armies. God did not abandon His people however though the nominal ones quickly fled. Eventually God would return as their King not in a Temple of stone but in a Temple of flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. We must therefore always hold to God as our King; that is the only hierarchy that we will understand or follow.
Video Example: http://www.newmonasticism.com
"Unlike monks, who lived behind monastic walls, the friars worked in the world. Their energy and creativity were seemingly boundless. They taught at universities, and many became great theologians. They managed investment funds in Italy to provide poor girls with dowries so they could marry; they went as missionaries to Muslim countries and even to the Far East."
Similar to this type of approach - Whether we call our groups house churches, guilds, or monastary is irrelevant; what is relevant is getting our hearts, minds, and actions in line with that of Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer sums this point up well in his book "Life Together" (http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=2737&C=2488 )
The origin of the new monastic movement is difficult to pinpoint. Some communities now identified with new monasticism have been in existence since the 1970s and 80s. Other well-known communities, such as the Simple Way in Philadelphia formed in the mid-90s.
The notion and terminology of “new monasticism” was developed by Jonathan Wilson, in his 1998 book called Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World. Wilson was, in turn, building on ideas of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre. Noting the decline of local community that could sustain the moral life, MacIntyre ended his book , by voicing a longing for “another . . . St. Benedict.” By this he meant someone in the present age to lead another renewal of morality and civility through community. Wilson identified with that longing in his own book, but outlined a vision to carry it forward within the tradition.
Calling the vision a “new monasticism,” he proposed four characteristics that such a monasticism would entail: (1) it will be “marked by a recovery of the telos of this world” revealed in Jesus, and aimed at the healing of fragmentation, bringing the whole of life under the lordship of Christ; (2) it will be aimed at the “whole people of God” who live and work in all kinds of contexts, and not create a distinction between those with sacred and secular vocations; (3) it will be disciplined, not by a recovery of old monastic rules, but by the joyful discipline achieved by a small group of disciples practicing mutual exhortation, correction, and reconciliation; and (4) it will be “undergirded by deep theological reflection and commitment,” by which the church may recover its life and witness in the world.
The motto of the Order was:"Hilfen, Wehren, Heilen" ("Help, Defend, Heal") TEUTONIC
Most new monastic communities emphasize the following:
1. Thoughtful, prayerful, and contemplative lives
2. Communal life (expressed in a variety of ways depending on the community)
3. A focus on hospitality
4. Practical engagement with the poor
The "Twelve Marks" of New Monasticism
The Twelve Marks of New Monasticism express the common thread of many new monastic communities. These "marks" are:
1. Relocation to the "abandoned places of Empire" [at the margins of society]
2. Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us
3. Hospitality to the stranger
4. Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation
5. Humble submission to Christ’s body, the Church
6. Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate
7. Nurturing common life among members of an intentional community
8. Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children
9. Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life
10. Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies
11. in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18
12. Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life